Abusing Nostalgia: Joss Whedon

Here's an interesting one, written just a few months after I moved to Los Angeles (you can tell because I'm still pretty wide eyed and bushy tailed).

If you don't know much about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, most of this will be Greek to you.

It really was a cool experience.  Aside from driving by Fountain and Fairfax (the Afghan Whigs fans among you understand), it was my first real "Los Angeles" moment.

This would actually not be the last time I'd see Joss Whedon or members of the cast of one of his shows in person, believe it or not.  More on that in the future.

Saturday, September 28, 2002
9:24:45 PM
I wrote this to, well, to pretty much everyone I know:

Okay, everyone, I'm going to try to make some sense out of the events of the day -- it all seems a bit surreal, to be honest -- both now and when it happened.
The signing/appearance was set for one and I got there at about 11:45. There was already a line, probably of about fifty people. They made it clear that we HAD to have the CD to get in, so I promptly ran inside and bought one (it rules...get it for the liner notes at least). I then got back in line, CD in one hand, Emmy copy of The Body in the other.

At about 12:30 (at this point the line was pretty big -- maybe a hundred and fifty people) a car pulled into the driveway. It was a greenish blue BMW. The first person to see inside yelled "It's Joss!" And it was. He parked and got out and there was much cheering and clapping. He waved as he headed inside. I think I almost passed out.

There was a film crew in the parking lot and they interviewed a girl standing near me. They told us they were from A&E and they were shooting a documentary on Buffy that should air in late October or early November.

Soon, a really nice looking car showed up and parked by the door. A driver got out and opened the back doors. A bunch of young girls got out, including Michelle Trachtenburg. This was a surprise since the fliers had said "Joss Whedon, Amber Benson, and other cast members," so we weren't sure who would show. No one ever actually saw Amber enter the building, so she could have walked to the store for all I know.

They actually took groups of twenty people into the Tower Records store and made everyone else wait, which was actually really good because it gave you a bit more time. You were going in as a group, not a long line.

As we moved forward another girl who had been standing by me returned with food from Subway. By this point we were standing by Joss' car (which, as nice as it may sound, wasn't really a rich guy car). She looked around for someplace to set her food and realized the only place to go was Joss' car. So we watched as she ate lunch on Joss' car. People took pictures and videotaped her, in fact.

Eventually we made it to the front of the line and I was about to piss myself. I'm extremely apathetic by nature, but when I really care about something I care about it A LOT. My hands were starting to shake.

They let us in and they were playing the musical in the store. Again, there was a line, but only a small one. I could see them -- Michelle, then Joss, then Amber. They were sitting at a table that was raised a bit off the ground. A few minutes after I entered, Joss got up. Two large men escorted him to the back of the story -- to the bathroom. I think my heart skipped a beat.

They decided it was a good time for a bathroom break, so Michelle got up as well. Michelle seems to have a following because some girl carrying a small DOG went with her to the bathroom. Kinda odd.

Anyway, Amber was alone at the table and she seemed so nice and so relaxed and so funny. It was kind of ridiculous. But I'll get to that in minute.

Everyone returned and the line moved forward. I should point out that I was wearing a tie -- I took a REALLY long lunch break from work to go to this. So I still had my fancy clothes on.

Anyway, I get up to Michelle and I hand her the CD as she says hi to me. I say hi back. I hand her the videotape and she asks me where she wants her to sign. I say anywhere is fine. She signs, but notices that the glossy cover makes the marker seem like it will rub off. I say that's okay as Joss notices what's going on.

I feel bad about meeting MT because it was kind of a blur at that point. Joss Whedon had suddenly entered my direct vision and everything else fell away. I handed him the CD book and asked him to sign on his picture, which he did. Then he looked at the tape of The Body.

"My girlfriend bought that on eBay for me," I said.

He looked it over, then signed it.

"It's my favorite thing," I said.

He stared at it again. "It means a lot to me, too."

"I feel bad, though," I said, "because my girlfriend bought it for me but I can't watch it -- I breakdown when I do."

MT intervened (thankfully) and recommend Joss put a heart by his name. He asked where and she kindly put one on for him.

At one Joss made a joke to the person in front of me in line and Amber laughed and said "I miss hanging out with you!" And later I thought to myself: I really wish I could make that statement.

Then it was on to Amber. I slid her my CD book. I was in a bit of a trance -- she had to open it to the page of Tara.

"I have to ask you a question," I said.

"What's that?" she asked.

I started mumbling incoherently. "Chance!" I finally blurted out. "When will we be able to see it?"

"We're working on getting distribution right now," she said as she signed my tape.

Just then, the Tower Records guy moved me along. I stood off to the side, waiting for my friend to get done. As he joined me to the side, Amber looked up at us and waved.

"Thanks for coming!" she said. "And you're all dressed up!"

"I came from work," I said back. "I'm on a really long lunch break."

And she winked at me.

Yep. She winked at me. Or maybe us (my friend and I). But he's gay, so I'm going with me on this one.

And I walked out the door.

And I remembered the little business cards I'd made up that said www.buffysdomain.com and how they were still in my pocket. *sigh*

I've been high as a kite ever since.

Abusing Nostalgia: The First Date

Today is Nicole's birthday.

I've written a lot of things about Nicole.  Heck, I wrote an entire book about her, really.  I've written so much about her (and us), that I thought I'd share some of it.  Pretty much all of it was written just for us.  I've never considered the possibility of trying to get it published anywhere.

This is how we "met."


            “Hey,” said Brandon in his usually upbeat, somewhat innocent manner.
            “Brandon,” I said.  This is the relationship we had: I was mean to him.  I mean, I wasn’t literally mean to him, but I joked around in a very mean fashion.  I knew he could take it though, or else I wouldn’t have done it.
            “I just got a message from some guy telling me I’m cute and funny.”  See, he said things like this and it was impossible for me to not be mean to him.  It was impossible.
            “I take it he’s never met you,” I said.
            “On Friendster,” he said, which is funny because the assumption here is that I not only knew what Friendster was, but I knew how it worked.  But it was a safe assumption to make.
            “You’re on Friendster?” I said as I typed the address into my web browser.  I wasn’t doing anything work related, anyway, and this gave me yet another source of distraction.  It was hard work finding ways to spend so much free time when I couldn’t leave the office.
            I pulled up the Friendster page and logged-in – as I said, I not only knew what Friendster was, I was well aware of how it worked.  Hell, the last girl I really dated I met on this thing, but that didn’t last too long.  Still, it was an interesting system, particularly for those of us who had a hard time braving the Los Angeles social scene.
            “Add me to your friends’ list,” said Brandon, so I looked him up and added him to my friends list.  “Isn’t that a great picture of me?”
            By this point, though, I’d quit listening to him.  I was now scanning the people in his friends list in hopes that they weren’t all gay men.  They weren’t.
            In particular, one photo caught my eye.  The name above it was Nicole.  So I clicked on her.
            “Hello,” I said as the page loaded, “who’s Nicole?”
            “You should send her a message,” said Brandon, “she’s totally chill.  You’d get along with her.”
            So I did.  And this is what I sent:

Sunday, October 24, 2004 11:42:00 AM
Brandon said I should send you a message. It
happened much like this:

Brandon: Some guy I don't even know sent me a
message on Friendster telling me I'm cute and

Me: You're on Friendster?

Brandon: Yeah.

Me: Let me add you to my friends' list.

**I look up Brandon.**

Brandon: Isn't that a good picture of me?

Me: Yeah, it's fan-freaking-tastic, Brandon.

Brandon: Isn't that a good description?

**I ignore Brandon and scroll down the page to his
list of friends.**

Me: Hello. Who's Nicole?

Brandon: Nicole! She's a girl I used to work with.
You should send her a message.

Me: Okay.

It dawns on me, however, that this could be the
worst conversation starter ever. But I hold out

            And they say romance is dead.

Below is what I wrote in my journal three days after our eventual first date (on December 1st, 2004).  I think it says it all.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

            I really am bad at this.

            So, Wednesday night.  I met Nicole at Molly Malone’s for drinks.  She was waiting for me when I got there.  It took me about three seconds to see her as she looks a lot like she does in her pictures.  But not exactly.  In fact, she actually looks better than she does in her pictures.

            I got there and she’d already ordered drinks.  I was extremely calm, which was just weird.  I mean, I wasn’t nervous in the slightest.  She was.  But the more we talked the more she relaxed and, of course, the more we drank the more comfortable we felt.

            I don’t know.  I could go into a lot of details about it but it’s getting late.  Basically, we spent a few hours at the bar and then a few hours here at my apartment and I really like Nicole.  I’m trying to be good about this.  I am.

            She’s coming over tomorrow night.

Eight plus years later and she's still the most amazing person I have ever known.

For what it's worth, I proposed in the parking lot of that bar, but that's a story for another time. 

Abusing Nostalgia: 23

I have a strange feeling that these posts are going to be really entertaining for only a select group of people.

Anyway, since I just wrote a review of Jimmy Eat World's "Clarity," I figured I'd choose something from when it came out, which was February of 1999.  Funny enough, I was 23 in February of 1999, and Jimmy Eat World have a song called "23."  It's a good song.

This particular journal entry is hilarious for many, many reasons.  I would normally avoid posting anything that involves girls by name, but I don't keep in touch with either of the girls in this post.  Oh, wait, there are appearances by two girls that I do still periodically talk to on Facebook, but I would bet fat sacks of cash that they're totally fine with this.

It's also one of the rare journal updates where I'm actually kind of full of myself and those are always fun to read.

Sunday, February 21, 1999

1:37:37 PM

                Christ, what a weekend.  To say that I’m exhausted today would be an understatement.  I have stuff to do and I don't even know where to begin, let alone want to begin.  Maybe I should replay my weekend a bit.

                Friday afternoon we practiced, then I went to a graduate reading at four o'clock.  It was good and then I got some people together to go to the Pub uptown.  See, Elizabeth works at the Pub.  She's a fellow first year grad student, as well as a fellow OU undergrad.  I had seen her around campus before - she's pretty stunning, so it's kind of hard not to notice her.  But she works with Vito's girlfriend at the Pub and Vito's girlfriend had mentioned to me that Elizabeth had said some nice things about me and would probably go out with me if I asked her.  SO, this leads us to Friday evening, since Elizabeth had asked me earlier in the day if I was going to stop by and see her at her second job.

                Well, we get to the Pub and she sets us up with lots of free drinks.  We got there a little after five and she got off around seven, so I was good and loaded by that point.  I had to come back here for a show, so I got up and put my arm around her (she was sitting) and told her I needed to leave.  She stood up and said good-bye to me and then I said that I needed to get my jacket and asked her to come with me.  So I get my jacket and put it on and I tell her that I'm pretty drunk, but I wanted to ask her -

                Yes.  She said yes before I had even asked a question.  She was smiling.  Then she asked me if I was only asking because I was drunk, to which I told her that I had been talking about asking her out all day and that she could ask our friends.  We both realized how busy we were this weekend, so she wrote down her number for me on a napkin, thus assuring that our next song will be called "Number On A Napkin" (that was Bob's idea).  So I have her phone number and I need to call her, but of course, I'm a little bit of a social idiot, so we'll see how that goes.

                But it was kind of nice to ask a girl out who seemed genuinely interested in going out with me.  Then I came home, greeted by lots of people I didn't know who were here for a show.  Of course, Asia showed up, although she was with her brother, who is a really nice guy.  The weird thing was, I was totally hung up on her.  I mean, I was a bit wasted, but she's just so damn good looking.  We hung out a bit and we were getting along well.  Here's where things get odd.

                At one point I was sitting on the couch between Judy and Asia and Lisa was sitting in the chair across from us.  I put my arm around Judy and Lisa yelled at me to stop hitting on Judy (jokingly, of course).  So I put my arm around Asia and Lisa yelled at me to stop hitting on Asia.  Well, Zack (Asia's brother) whispered over to Lisa for her to let me hit on his sister, as if he had some sort of information that I was unaware of.  It just seemed odd that he would want me to hit on his sister.  So I took this as meaning either the kid liked me a lot, or he knew his sister did.

                Now, this is where things get weird.  Because later on, Asia and I were talking and she gave me this whole thing about how she thinks I'm the kind of guy that could really fall for her (too true) and how she doesn't want that and all of that.  I mean, she was definitely putting the guard up.  But I can't help but wonder if that's because of me or because of her - I feel like maybe she does have some like for me and doesn't want to go through that.  I dunno.

                So I'm to the point where I don't really care.  I don't think I ever had a true, vested interest in it.  I mean, it was fun and will probably continue to be so, but we'll see.  After all, I have a number on a napkin.

Abusing Nostalgia: 17

Inspired by the Twitter account that Alison Haislip created that is a daily update of the journal she kept 20 years ago (it's called AliMinus20), I went digging into the journal that I managed to keep for a good 15 years on a semi-regular basis.

Funny enough, the oldest one I could find is from 20 years ago.  I considered posting the entire thing, but to be perfectly honest it's kind of sad.  Most of it is about girls and it's so terrifyingly emo that I'm surprised managed to date anyone, let alone marry the amazing woman that I'm married to.

It is interesting to note how the first part of this passage is still relevant.

January 2, 1993

At the moment I feel... in between. Writing is my life, but deciding what to write is hard. And that whole thought of being a creative writing major scares me. I’m in one of those stages where all I want to do is write, but everything I write seems pointless. I feel almost physically ill because of it. I’ve been walking around in a daze. The only thing that seems to have any value or meaning appears to be these journal entries, though what purpose they serve is beyond me. Maybe I just need to stay sane.

Anyway, Oral Groove plays an Amnesty Benefit on the 15th, which should be fairly cool. I think it’ll be a blast. We’ll be playing stuff that no one has heard, and if people have only heard us since Battle of the Bands (which is everyone), than they should be surprised. We’re playing a ten song set featuring one cover and only three songs that we played last year at Battle. One of those three songs is nothing like it was. Six all new songs that we think are pretty darn good. Hopefully, so will the people listening. But, if they don’t, who cares? We’re not trying to impress anyone, we’re just trying to have fun. It would just be nice to do both. Kind of like writing.
Ah, to be 17 again...actually, no, that would suck.

Los Angeles Part 5: Why You'd Want to Live Here

Somehow, when I wasn't pay attention, Los Angeles endeared itself to me.  This has been something of a shock.

There was a point, roughly two years in to my stay, that I thought about moving.  I'd spent two years in Atlanta before heading west, so two years seemed to be a good run for a city.  Besides, I'd always felt some kind of strange kinship to the Pacific Northwest.  I began doing research on moving to Seattle.

Then I met Nicole, and since Nicole works in the entertainment industry, she needed to stay here, so I stayed here.

Strangely enough, over the next seven years I found a lot to really like about this city, and even a few things to love.  Oh, I'm not saying I didn't find plenty of reasons to dislike living here, because anyone who tells you they love everything about Los Angeles is a filthy liar.  But I'll admit that I've grown surprisingly attached to this town, and for the strangest reasons.

For example, there's something appealing about living in a city whose baseline creative output can best be described as below average.  I'm not saying there aren't some works of genius coming out of the City of Angels, but let's face facts: Hollywood generally produces crap.  And it all comes from Hollywood.  The television shows, the movies, and the books by celebrities or people who know celebrities -- it all comes from the same place.  But the fact that this town regularly produces awful material is oddly comforting, as if the bar is so low that someone like me can jump it.

There's also something appealing about living in a town that exists to monetize creativity.  I realize that might sound awful, but ask anyone who engages in any kind of artistic endeavor, and they will tell you that actually making money from what they do seems incredibly daunting.  And I know that there are a lot of sharks in the water in Los Angeles, but there's also a system in place, a mechanism that can take a project and find a way for people to pay for it.

Combine those first two points and you have a city where you can come up with a really crappy idea and make a ton of money off of it.  It really lends itself to a rags to riches fantasy.  Because of this, of course, everyone and their dog walker has an idea, a screenplay, or a head shot.  The disregard for quality by much of Los Angeles is counteracted by the sheer volume of people trying to cash in.  In fact, if I lived in any other city, I would probably be less hesitant to refer to myself as a writer, but here I don't like the connotations that such a title brings with it.

There's an entire class of people here that are "creative professionals," a title that baffles me because I have a hard time reconciling that those two ideas are compatible.  I suppose this is more a reflection of my own creative process than anything else, but still.  To live in a place where you're surrounded by people who make a living being creative (regardless of how good or bad what they create might be) is pretty exciting.

And, honestly, living among such a diverse group of people is just as exciting.  Our building is made up almost entirely of twentysomethings and older Russians.  I've interacted with the people from dozens of different countries, endless background, and various orientations, socioeconomic statuses, and political views.  I have never lived in a place as diverse as Los Angeles and I doubt I will ever live anywhere that comes close to matching it.

Combine those last two points with the constant rhythm of this city, the drunks stumbling down side streets when the bars close, the ghetto bird shining its light down upon as, the parades for pretty much any occasion, even the crazy homeless people who yell inspired, otherworldly poetry as I walk past them.  Los Angeles is sensory overload of the best kind -- the kind that makes you want to create.

These are the things that I will miss about Los Angeles itself, at the least in the broadest terms.  I'm sure the specifics will come out in the near future.